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April 9, 1997

Selection of Influenza Strains for 1997 Vaccine

JAMA. 1997;277(14):1103-1104. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540380015005

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IT'S BEEN tough work dealing with influenza this past winter. In terms of excess mortality, this has been one of the worst influenza seasons in recent years; moreover, it has been hard to reach a final decision on which strains of the virus to include in next year's flu vaccine. All 3 of these strains—the A viruses, H1N1 and H3N2, and the B—have now been chosen.

The strains of influenza A H3N2 and B in the current vaccine will stay the same for next year's vaccine. A new strain of H1N1 has been chosen, A/Bayern/7/95. But a technical difficulty precludes using this particular virus, so the hunt is on for a virus of the same strain, with similar antigenic characteristics, that can be used for vaccine manufacture.

The impact of the disease in the United States this past winter can be appreciated from the fact that the excess mortality attributed